This is the part of a series of live dispatches from our Write On For Israel students during their trip to Israel. Write On For Israel is a leadership training program for high school students. You can find out more about the program here, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for live updates throughout the trip and here for the daily roundups.
On Friday morning, our cohort had the incredible opportunity to visit the StandWithUs office in Jerusalem. At the office, we were treated to a wonderfully informative and touching presentation by Charlotte Korchak, a StandWithUs educator. Our group went through an essential guide on how to tell Israel’s story and to promote our narrative, whilst building bridges with those who may hold views different from our own. A key point our group took away was the value of our personal and emotional attachments and stories from Israel, and how these relevant pieces of information can aid our argument and humanize the entire dialogue. Our group also came to understand that listening to the arguments of those with opposing viewpoints helps us to identify with the issues they find important, and to empathize with them even while supporting Israel unapologetically.
Afterward we went to Gush Etzion and met with Steve Gar, a member of the anti-terror rapid response team. Steve took us around the Gush area and talked to us about security, life and the communities in the area. We visited the communications bunker in Kfar Etzion from the War of Independence, as well as the memorial for Ezra Schwartz, Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, who were killed in terrorist attacks nearby.
Brooke Schwartz, a Write On participant, gave a moving testimony about her first cousin, Ezra, during which she urged our group to continue to engage with and advocate for Israel. She mentioned one way she is honoring her cousin’s memory is by spending a gap year in Israel next year. Everyone was extremely moved and thankful to Brooke for sharing.
Steve then took us for a walk, pointing out several places of significance in the bible.
After leaving Gush Etzion, we enjoyed some free time at Machane Yehuda and returned to the hotel to prepare for Shabbat. We are looking forward to visiting the Jewish Quarter this evening and having a kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel.
Written by: Sean Whaysman, Brooke Schwartz, Sarah Schildkraut, Samara Rosen, Zach Kauderer, Eli Kanfer, Abby Goldberg and Natalie Barbanel